NHRA to expand field sizes for 2020 Countdown playoffs

In 2020, competitors in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series may earn their way into the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s version of the playoffs, by one of two ways.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship will see some new elements this year. Competitors in the premier series may earn their way into the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s version of the playoffs, by one of two ways.

As in previous years, the top 10 drivers in each of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series categories at the conclusion of the NHRA U.S. Nationals will earn positions in the Countdown to the Championship.

New for 2020, drivers in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series who meet a minimum set of requirements will also earn their place in the playoffs.

In NHRA’s Top Fuel and Funny Car classes, collectively referred to as “Nitro," drivers who compete at all 18 events in the regular season and run a minimum of two qualifying sessions at each event will also earn their place in the playoffs.

By way of example, if this rule had been in effect in 2019, 12 drivers in Top Fuel and 12 drivers in Funny Car would have been part of the Countdown.

In Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, drivers who compete at all 13 or 11 events, respectively, in the regular season and run a minimum of two qualifying sessions at each event will get to compete for the championship in five events throughout the Countdown to the Championship.

Those who secure a position in the Countdown to the Championship will have their NHRA Mello Yello points adjusted at the conclusion of the NHRA U.S. Nationals. In the Nitro categories, first and second place will be separated by 20 points and each consecutive position will be separated by a 10-point differential. In Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, first and second place will be separated by 20 points while second through fifth place will be separated by 10 points and all following positions will be separated by five points.

Accumulation of points will remain the same, with points-and-a-half rewarded at the Auto Club NHRA Finals. The top ten drivers at the conclusion of the Countdown to the Championship will be recognized at NHRA’s annual awards banquet.

NHRA officials made this change in order to better reward driver endurance and encourage participation in regular season events.

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